Colin Sell had written a new musical. It was based on historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s work Montaillou, about the Inquisition’s investigation of the Cathar heresy in late 13th/early 14th century France. Somehow Colin had extracted from that hefty volume a touching pair of stories, which had inspired him to write some very poignant music, a considerable contrast to the rumbustious style that had marked out his first shows for Direct Current, his theatre company
Black Night Owls was a chamber piece, with only a handful of roles. I didn’t expect to win one of them, but I went along to audition. To my surprise, I landed the part of a warm-hearted but gullible shepherd. The range of the music suggested a baritone rather than a tenor, but it was such a good opportunity I’d have been an idiot to turn it down on that basis. As it turned out, Jean the Shepherd was one of a handful of leads I did as an actor, as well as being one of the few stage roles in which I felt I accomplished something.
The show premiered at the Old Red Lion, near the Angel, Islington. It was well-received, and the company duly went up to the Edinburgh fringe festival where we held our own in the annual scramble for attention.
Black Night Owls is a fine piece of work. I wish it were widely known.